Vine of the Soul:1: The Journey Begins

"Ayahuasca and chacruna cocinando" by Awkipuma - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Ayahuasca and chacruna cocinando” by Awkipuma – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

I am tired, head-achy and a bit dizzy on the long ride to the Gathering. I have been on my first “dieta” for a week now and the caffeine withdrawal and reduced calorie intake are having their way with me. A dieta is a diet of no salt, sugar, caffeine, alcohol or spicy foods. Meats and dairy are gradually reduced until one is only consuming bits of fruit, nut butters and steamed vegetables, which prepares the body for the ceremony with Ayahuasca. I have been told that the traditional South American dieta would be rice, steamed vegetables and small bits of fish, all unseasoned. Sexual contact is also disallowed. My driving companion and I gaze longingly at billboards & truck sides advertising pancakes… burgers… fresh fruit. We sip instead on herbal tea that I brought from my apothecary. Occasionally, between moments of quiet conversation and good music, one of us will wonder aloud, “are we really doing this”?

We arrive at our destination in the late afternoon. I wheel my small suitcase down a long, darkened hallway flanked by amazing artwork that I feel compelled to stop and inspect. One of the artists is Pablo Amaringo, and I am mesmerized by these paintings. Little do I know at that moment how differently I will view these paintings in a few days…

My name, along with a few others, is written on a slip of paper attached to one of many doorways. The room is small, dim, musty, and furnished with yard sale finds. I can see luggage stacked atop one of the four available twin beds . I take a sagging bed by the window and let out a breath I have been holding. I am uptight and nervous, my inner judge and jury wondering about my age, my clothes, my energy… blah blah blah. My initial assessment is that the few people I have met so far have been less than welcoming. I also suspect that it is likely my own stuff surfacing- I am an introvert and rarely feel comfortable in new groups. I have several hours until my first ceremony with The Grandmother, and I decide to wander the grounds…


Mass shootings, war, drug addition, rape, murder, incest, racism, bullying and a myriad of other violent scenarios are a reality of life in the United States. The FBI states in its annual report that in 2013, an estimated 1,163,146 violent crimes occurred nationwide.  The media reports that a public mass shooting has occurred on average every 172 days since 1982. Many argue that gun control is the answer to violence in America. Others site drug addiction as a primary cause of violent crimes, loaded jail cells and untapped human potential. The National Council on alcohol and drug dependence (NCADD) states that “Most inmates are in prison, at least in large part, because of substance abuse. 80% of offenders abuse drugs or alcohol. Nearly 50% of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted. Approximately 60% of individuals arrested for most types of crimes test positive for illegal drugs at arrest.” (NCADD: “Drugs and Crime”) A rise in mental illness and overuse of psychiatric drugs is being scrutinized as a possible cause of the negative swing of our culture’s moral compass. The percentage of Americans disabled by mental illness has increased fivefold since 1955.

All of these- firearms, illegal and prescription drug addiction, mental illness- are likely theories for the one million plus violent crimes in America. If we widen the lens a bit, we see the morally heinous corporate crimes of greed. Big business stealing from the poor and working class and pillaging our planet as a source of wealth for the already wealthy has become the norm.  What lies beneath all this violence, apathy and moral bankruptcy? Blaming guns, mental illness and drug addiction for the erosion of morals and ethics in our culture is akin to blaming the warning light on a car dashboard for the impending breakdown of the engine. Perhaps the real issue is a deep disregard for the sacredness of life in pursuit of the material. Maybe what America truly needs is a spiritual slap in the face…

[Author's Note: My purpose in these writings is to share my 
personal experiences. I am not suggesting that working with plant 
entheogens is an appropriate path for everyone. In fact, I caution anyone who wishes to work with these plants to do so only after 
great consideration. All people considering this path of 
exploration should work diligently to find authentic healers to 
work with. Persons with addiction issues, those who have been 
diagnosed with mental illness and people with deep emotional 
issues should work directly with healers who have the knowledge 
and professional background to address after-effects that may 
arise from this profound work. All photos posted are attributed to their original source(s) and are not mine.]


One thought on “Vine of the Soul:1: The Journey Begins”

  1. I have liked snakes since a child. They do so much for us. Couple weeks ago October winter 2015 saw a medium size king snake wanted to touch it Kyle advised me my immune system is not like it was when I was younger. Also noticed snake hole in my garden when preparing for winter. About 12 snakes live in our yard. Black and King snakes. King snakes eat copperhead snakes. Enjoy to watch their movements.

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